cover image TAKEN


Kathleen George, TAKENKathleen George

One minute aspiring actress Marina Benedict is admiring a baby in a stroller in downtown Pittsburgh, the next she's tracking a man she believes kidnapped the infant, in this uneven debut thriller. After leaving her marriage counselor's office, where she has just taken the first step toward divorce, Marina longingly admires a little boy whom she later sees in the arms of a seedy man on a bus. Suspicious, she follows them until she, too, is kidnapped by the man's cohorts. Through news reports, they learn that the baby is the son of a Pirates rookie pitcher, and Marina is shot and left for dead. Rescued by the police, she tries to help them find the baby, befriending the boy's mother and becoming more than friends with lead detective Richard Christie. As she convalesces, she uncovers an adoption ring that includes sleazy lawyer Manny; his amoral sister, Emelia; and Marina's former captors—Joe, Vol, and Anton—who do Emelia's bidding. Drama teacher George (The Man in the Buick and Other Stories) produces dead bodies and new clues, and keeps Marina one step ahead of the police and the FBI—but this thriller romance isn't especially thrilling or romantic. George proves herself a rookie at establishing dramatic tension with her preference for psychological exposition over action at potentially climactic moments and with an overuse of theater images (a thief contemplating murder is like an actor contemplating a role in Lear). Chicago, Miami, New York and even Richmond, Va., boast popular female detectives; despite this novel's riveting premise, the position's still open in Pittsburgh. (May 15)

Forecast:This generic thriller will do respectably but probably no better, though its effective cover—showing the back of a man stalking a woman—should draw browsers' attention.